Real Estate Q&A

Dave,
My husband and I have been looking at homes for the past several months and our real estate agent has advised us that when we purchase, we need to have a professional home inspection done by a home inspector. My husband’s brother is a general contractor who has been building homes for over 15 years in Denver and before that spent 10 years or so as a licensed plumber. His brother has told us that he would be happy to look it over for us, instead of having to pay someone to inspect it. We understand that it will cost about $400 and we would like to save as much money as we can. Our real estate agent told us that having a family member do it is not a good idea, but we are not convinced and are still thinking about having him do it for us. What are your thoughts?
— Wendy and Bret, Fruita

Wendy and Bret,
Wow, another very good and very pertinent question. We hear this all the time and it is a question we have answered many times before. First, let me say that we always recommend for a buyer to have a professional home inspection performed and if they choose not to, we have them sign a waiver that states they are going to deny a professional home inspection and inspect it by themselves or have a friend or family member perform the inspection on their behalf.

The reason your real estate agent has urged you to have a professional home inspection performed is that it protects most home buyers from purchasing a home that may have some latent defects that only a trained professional would find. More often than not, when a buyer waives the professional home inspection, the buyers want their “Uncle Bob” to perform the inspection because he is very handy and fixes most things for the entire family and has done it for years. This is a recipe for disaster for any potential home buyer and for any real estate agent who does not get a signed waiver. A professional has developed a “trained eye” and will be able to identify many items that the lay person will overlook.

The professional home inspection will also provide a solid baseline for the overall condition of the home and all mechanical systems at the time of your purchase. You can reference the home inspection report for years after you purchase and it will provide you with many details that you may have forgotten during the excitement, and stress, of purchasing your home. Home inspection don’t just find problems, they also educate you about the house you are to call home.

It really is the rare exception, but in your case, it sounds like your brother-in-law has ample experience to perform a general home inspection for you. Any general contractor should be able to perform a more-than-competent home inspection, especially if he used to be a plumber. The key things to look for — that require trade knowledge — are the electrical panel and outlets, heating and cooling system and all plumbing. In this case you should be able to save yourself the cost of a home inspection and use that money for another part of your closing costs.

One thing to keep in mind: If the seller is offering a home warranty, many of these programs require a professional home inspection report to be provided to them should you make any claims during the warrantied time frame. They will want some kind of written report to verify the condition of the property or item to ensure that it was functioning properly at the time of purchase.

Overall, everyone should have a home inspection performed by someone who is competent to provide an overall checkup of the home’s structure and systems and if they provide a written report that is a very helpful reference for years to come. Your brother-in-law certainly sounds like he should be up to the task, but remember very few things in life are free! : ) (It will certainly cost you dinner, at a minimum.)

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team
RE/MAX 4000, Inc

Do you have a question? Send it to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and Dave Kimbrough will personally answer it in this space. Some questions may be more technical in nature than others and require more time to research. Due to volume we can’t guarantee a response to every question.

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